The model Knuffingen Airport in Hamburg, part of the world's largest railway model, has 40 different planes that take off and land hundreds of times daily.

If you think the seats in United's economy section are tight, try squeezing into the cabin of a jet at Hamburg's Knuffingen Airport.

That would require being crumbled into fine powder, because Knuffingen is a scale model inspired by the city's actual airport. You might not immediately notice the difference from watching these videos. The creators of the airport, Gerrit and Frederik Braun, poured an unbelievable €3.5 million and 6 years of construction work into it, and footage of the finished product looks almost exactly like tilt-shift shots of a real plane hub.

Knuffingen is a fictional city in Miniatur Wunderland that exists next to tiny versions of Scandinavia, Austria and America's Old West. Miniature Wunderland is, for its part, a museum in Hamburg that happens to contain the world's largest model-train set. Visitors can geek out to 930 computer-operated trains chugging over 1,300 square meters of modellbahnanlage, aka railway-set paraphernalia. The airport set piece covers 150 square meters and holds 40 types of jets that actually take off and land as often as 360 times per day. When the Brauns cut the ribbon on it last year, it was such a huge event that the mayor of Hamburg himself felt obliged to attend.

Knuffingen might not be a real place (is it a play on the German town of Nufringen?), but its fake history is all too real. According to its online home:

This city of 10,000 inhabitants, idyllically situated between the Harz and the Alps, is one of the largest cities in Miniatur Wunderland. Knuffingen is known for its innovations and has a worldwide reputation for its automobile industry....

The police in Knuffingen is also well equipped. A radar trap regularly catches truck drivers who are putting the pedal to the metal. The fire department Knuffingen is working at full capacity.

The central computer system is afflicted by the work of an arsonist who sets fires on different houses in the city. We haven't been able to catch the arsonist yet, much to the annoyance of the fire department and the joy of our guests. So, the siren will be heard as a characteristic sound in Knuffingen for a long time to come.

Let's hope that arsonist doesn't find out how flammable jet fuel is. You can find more wowza photos here, and this a behind-the-scenes video of model makers putting the finishing touches on the airport for its opening day:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    Britain's Next Megaproject: A Coast-to-Coast Forest

    The plan is for 50 million new trees to repopulate one of the least wooded parts of the country—and offer a natural escape from several cities in the north.

  2. The White House is seen reflected during a rainy day in Washington, D.C.
    POV

    The City That 'This Town' Forgot

    Washington, D.C., is home to a huge concentration of reporters. Why do they miss the stories happening in their own city?

  3. Transportation

    To Measure the 'Uber Effect,' Cities Get Creative

    Ride-hailing companies are cagey on all-important trip data. So researchers are finding clever workarounds.

  4. Design

    Black Urban Design in a 'Changing America'

    "The city is the black man's land," reads one capsule in an exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Its curator explains why design is a critical part of the post-1968 urban and suburban landscape—and the museum itself.

  5. A small accessory dwelling unit—known as an ADU—is attached to an older single-family home in a Portland, Oregon, neighborhood.
    Design

    The Granny Flats Are Coming

    A new book argues that the U.S. is about to see more accessory dwelling units and guides homeowners on how to design and build them.